Health Care Officials, ACLU Oppose Bill To Drug Test Health Care Workers

Feb 26, 2013

A bill requiring New Hampshire health care workers undergo random drug testing went before a House committee on Tuesday.

The bill comes after a former Exeter Hospital medical technician was accused of infecting more than 30 patients with Hepatitis C. Officials say David Kwiatkowski injected himself and then reused the needles.

Opponents of the bill say going after other innocent employees is not the answer.

Gary Cahoon operates Friendship Manor, a retirement home in New Ipswich.

He says in 28 years in business, he’s dealt with 6 to 8 of identified cases of drug diversion among employees, though more in recent years.

“But I would suggest that this particular bill and its cost is an overreaction and the kind of thing where the surgery might be successful but the patient might die.”

The bill calls for random drug tests for health care workers at residential care and health facilities licensed with the state.  

Kwiatkowski has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

The New Hampshire Civil Liberties Union opposes the bill.

At a House committee hearing Tuesday, Director Devon Chaffee said the bill constitutes an invasion of privacy against a broad base of the state’s workforce.

“There’s no evidence, there’s no empirical evidence that this type of random drug testing actually results in improved patient care.”